Portland is in the midst of a booming economy, and as wealth continues to grow in the city, so does inequality. In 2015, the 3,670 households that comprise the top 1% of Multnomah County reported an average annual income of $1,192,784. Meanwhile, the majority of Portlanders are struggling to make rent. In fact, according to a December 2017 survey, 84 percent of area residents said that quality of life is either staying the same or getting worse. Only 9 percent felt it was getting better. After decades of austerity budgets, Portland has become a city that only works for the very wealthy.
We, the Portland chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, say enough is enough. We reject scarcity budgets. We reject cuts. We reject having to choose between necessities. Instead, we fight for a city that works for all of us. We demand a budget that prioritizes the needs of the people and a city where all can prosper and have their needs met. We demand fundamental rights for residents such as housing for all, universal preschool, fully funded education, and support for immigrant communities.
As a first step toward reinvesting in our city and supporting the people of Portland, we propose a municipal income tax on its wealthiest residents. We look forward to building a coalition of community partners to move forward our vision of a Portland that prioritizes the needs of its people, not the portfolios of its wealthy.
The proposed income tax brackets are as follows:
- 2% tax on income in excess of $250,000 ($500,000 for joint returns)
- 4% tax on income in excess of $500,000 ($1,000,000 for joint returns)
- 6% tax on income in excess of $750,000 ($1,500,000 for joint returns)
- 8% tax on income in excess of $1,000,000 ($2,000,000 for joint returns)
Summary of the resulting effective tax rates:
- 0.0% tax for a single filer with $250,000 in income or less ($500,000 for joint returns)
- 0.6% tax for a single filer with $350,000 in income ($700,000 for joint returns)
- 1.0% tax for a single filer with $500,000 in income ($1,000,000 for joint returns)
- 3.0% tax for a single filer with $1,000,000 in income ($2,000,000 for joint returns)
According to our research, a municipal income tax at these rates would generate approximately $114 million in annual revenue within the City of Portland. If expanded to all of Multnomah County, the annual revenue would be approximately $143 million, and if expanded to Metro, $225 million.